It looked as though the teams would skate to a scoreless opening frame for the second straight game until Artturi Lehkonen beat Mike Smith with a backhand deke with just 29 seconds to go in the period. Jesperi Kotkaniemi made a crafty move as he entered the attacking zone and found his fellow Finn cutting to the net as Lehkonen lifted the quick backhand over Smith's glove-side shoulder.
PLAY OF THE GAME
It's getting to the point where it's less likely that Connor McDavid doesn't score a highlight-reel goal when the Oilers hit the ice. Edmonton notched the 1-1 equalizer at 3:09 of the middle frame as Caleb Jones made a superb stretch pass to send McDavid in alone on Jake Allen and the captain deked to his backhand then his forehand before flicking a shot under the crossbar for his 25th goal and league-leading 75th point of the season. He picked up two assists later to finish the night at 77 points.
SAVE OF THE GAME
With the Oilers on their second power play of the night and the score 2-1 Montreal towards the midway mark of the third period, Leon Draisaitl loaded up a one-timer from his wheelhouse on the right flank, but Allen was able to make the save with his helmet to keep the German sniper at bay. Shortly thereafter, Tyler Toffoli made it 3-1 Canadiens for some important insurance.
Just 11 seconds after McDavid's electrifying equalizer, Josh Anderson got the puck from the ensuing faceoff, burst down the left wing, cut around Adam Larsson, drove to the net and beat Smith short side for his 16th of the season to re-establish Montreal's lead and quell any Edmonton momentum.
Anderson added the 4-1 insurance marker for a two-goal night and his 17th of the season to lead Montreal's offensive attack, snapping a four-game goalless streak. His second goal also held up as the game-winner for his fifth in that column as the Oilers scored two late ones to make it interesting.
With his second period tally, McDavid tied Paul Coffey for sixth in franchise history for seasons with 25 or more goals with his fifth. Jari Kurri leads the way with 10, while Wayne Gretzky and Glenn Anderson each had nine, Mark Mesiser put up eight and Ryan Smyth scored 25 or more six times with Edmonton.
After playing three games in five nights, the Oilers won't play for four days in a row as they'll travel to Winnipeg on Sunday for road games against the Jets on Monday and Wednesday. Next Thursday will be the ninth of 10 Battle of Alberta matchups of the season back at Rogers Place.
"That was a hard-fought game and that's the way all the games are going to be down the stretch," said Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who returned to the lineup on Wednesday, scored the team's second goal and played 26:31. "In the playoffs it's going to be the same mindset."
"You could tell in the first they kind of put the whistles away," Jones said of only one penalty getting called on each team in the first 40 minutes. "In the third period they started calling more, which I thought was kind of weird, because in the first two periods they were just letting us play. But you can't control what happens with that stuff, you've just got to keep playing through it."
"You're playing hard, playoff-style games, so that's good for your team," Head Coach Dave Tippett said of the back-to-back battles with Montreal. "How you react, how you play in those games, you find out a lot about your players in those games. Who can play, who can battle at that level."